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Hybrid Site

Although my CV and portfolio can be found here, this is not strictly a professional site, but a hybrid one, combining an ever-unfolding glimpse of my current interests and my steadfast passions with an overview of my professional accomplishments and experiences over the years, as well as my hopes,  dreams, and plans for the future. Heterosis, also knows as hybrid vigor, is for people, too! 

New Chapter

At nearly 56, I am, as are so many others, beginning an entirely new chapter of my life--perhaps even a whole new book!  Facing a nearly empty nest while unwittingly contributing to the already lamentably high gray divorce statistics has its challenges, but beginnings are inherently alluring, and joy and grace are always available to those who nuture the knack of finding and savoring them.

Journeywoman

A "journeyman" is typically understood to be a solid, reliable performer who neither attracts nor desires star treatment, but straightforwardly practices and enjoys his life's work.  I hazard to name myself both a journeywoman and woman on a journey as I set off to compose the next phases of my personal and professional lives with renewed vigor and focus.

This website is still in progress--pardon my dust, but I do prefer to edit live. 

A Favorite Poem

And Why it Speaks to Me

I don't know exactly what a prayer is./ I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down/ into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, /how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,/ which is what I have been doing all day.

Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day" speaks strongly to me right now, in the summer of 2018, while the daylight continues to grow longer as we approach the summer solstice on June 21st--the longest day of the year.

The poem reminds me of the importance of finding spiritual sustenance and challenge in close observation of nature, and the question with which the poem ends is a pressing one for me right now.  At 55 (going on 56!), with a marriage in tatters, a long divorce in interminable progress, and mere months before my nest is nearly empty (at least during the academic year), what will I do with the few decades I might have left?  It's a daunting question, but an essential one to ask ourselves again and again: who do we want to be, and why?  Is the goal worthy?  Will we leave blessings in our wake?  Can we be both humble and bold enough to fall on our knees before the stunning beauties that surround us?

I do think Oliver cheats a bit here, though--delightfully so.  I'd say she knows exactly what a prayer is, and not only prays brilliantly, but invites every reader to do the same. 

"Flashes of Something," an essay I wrote for and with my Fall Semeseter Writing Students at Northern Illinois University, definitely owes something to Oliver, as well as to the Frost poem from which its epigraph is drawn. 

I definitely wish for all of my students that they persevere in their own ongoing searches for meaning--one of our most fundamental human undertakings--that they find guidance and solace in the voices of other writers, and that they confidently add their own voices to these essential conversations and debates.

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 

Flash Essays

And Phone Composition

You can read "Flashes of Something," as well as a selection of my other brief essays here.

In Fall Semester of 2017, it rapidly became apparent to me that many students routinely compose not on desktop or laptop machines--often not even on tablets--but on their smart phones. 

Intrigued by that approach--after all, it does make sense to write on one's phone given that this bit of technology is almost always with us--I decided to give phone composition a whirl. 

Although it's precisely the sort of thing that writing teachers often bemoan--worrying that technology will spell the death of good writing--there are some distinct advantages to phone writing.  Carving out private space and quiet time in which to write can be challenging.  But the phones in our pockets mean that we can always write (albeit on relatively tiny screens) when conditions are right.

Most of the "tiny essays" here are phone compositions.  Enjoy.